In the late 90s, I was asked to cover Computex, the digital trade show in Taiwan. At the time, the reputation of Taiwan’s ODMs was much lower than today. Consumer electronics products were characterized by cheap, unoriginal knockoffs that capitalized on any new design trends. (Today, of course, companies like Asus and Acer are market leaders.)
These were the years in which Apple was losing its hold on digital publishing; CMP Media used Quark as a publishing tool, but reporters were being handed clunky Compaq notebooks instead. For a component reporter, Apple’s iMacs were a curiosity, not a story.
It was therefore eye-opening to visit Taiwan and see the extent to which a few pieces of candy-colored plastic revolutionized PC design. I saw dozens of products, most of which would never make it to the United States.
From USB keys to mice to scanners to monitor stands, pastel-colored lucite was everywhere. From the iMac’s “igloo” speakers to its “hockey puck” mouse, there’s no question that the iMac blew up the beige box, virtually creating the category of “all-in-one” PC in the process.
Over the years, the iMac’s design principles have remained remarkably consistent: hiding hardware complexity behind a big, beautiful display that dominates the computing experience. Over the next few pages, we’ll provide a visual history of the iMac, tracing its evolution from the iMac G3 up through the “new” iMacs that are scheduled to ship in November and December.
For more iMac goodness, check out this slideshow of iMac prototypes on Flickr. There, you’ll find shots of the prototype running Mac OS 9.2, some pictures of the logic board, and even some component shots. Also see PCMag’s Hands On With the New, Thinner Apple iMacs.